PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Portland is making plans for the largest homeless shelter in the city, which was approved in a 3-2 vote on August 10.
The old industrial warehouse, formerly used by the Port of Portland, is supposed to be a shelter for 400 homeless people by the end of October, but some feel the project is being rushed and may be illegal.
This is a privately funded project, and developer Homer Williams says they’ve already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Portland attorney John DiLorenzo, who is threatening a lawsuit against the city, says sewer bills are also part of the funding for the shelter.
The Bureau of Environmental Services, which is largely funded by sewer payments, will lease the industrial warehouse to the Portland Housing Bureau.
According to DiLorenzo, the illegal part is that the lease isn’t at market rate so the city is paying 8-10 times less than it should be.
The city council agreed to a $10,000 a month lease, but DiLorenzo says the market rate would be closer to $100,000 a month. He says those sewer bill payers will end up making up the difference.
“The question is, should your water bill or sewer bill finance the homeless shelter? I would imagine most people would say no,” DiLorenzo said. “Politicians like the mayor look to the rate payers as this endless pot of money to do whatever they want to do whenever the general fund dollars are scarce.”
DiLorenzo wants the city to reverse its decision to approve the shelter plan, or raise the rental rate. If they don’t, he said, “they’ll have to meet us in court.”